African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

William H. Tibbs, "Awake! Arise! Onward!" (1923)

Oh! you children of a despised race
Of dark and saffron hue;
Stop building mansions in the sky
To be occupied by you.

Your quest should be for mansions here,
For self, for home, for race,
That you can give posterity
That high and fitting place.

Placid content is a fool's paradise
It unfits the mind.
Face facts, bold and courageously,
Be implacable; the resolute kind.

Never submerge your manhood,
Always resent insults,
If anyone regard you highly
Such methods they repulse.

Be a bulldog in the fight
Never be a cur,
The bulldog no one ever kicks,
Instinctively they fear.

The fight is on! The enemy is here;
Would you know how to beat 'em?
The solution is plain, a cogent fact,
Join the Friends of Negro Freedom.

Published in The Messenger, February 1923

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